Open Access in Practice: The European Union's Regulation of OARs

Open Access in Practice: The European Union's Regulation of OARs

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1131-2.ch004


The basic scope of the European Union is the political and economic unification through harmonisation of European Member States' national regulations and associated frameworks. Should the European Union aim to harmonise and unify these national regulations, it is only reasonable to do so through copyright-specific policy provisions implemented by the European countries. The European copyright regime could potentially facilitate open access practice, should this practice be tailored to policy-making actors regarding the European copyright law framework. This chapter examines efforts and initiatives made by the European institutions (e.g., European Commission, European Parliament) in order to construct a coherent copyright framework for the European Union Members.
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The previous chapters argue that public policy objectives of a fair and just society require greater access to knowledge by an ever-broadening cross-section of the global society. This raises the issue of creating a balance between the competing interests of copyright owners and end users. OARs are a response to new realities that stem from technological growth regarding the production and dissemination of information (Castells, 2002). Accessibility to information resources has become a modern necessity that needs to be met to share the wealth of European society equitably (Héritier, 2003). Therefore, this chapter will analyse the efforts made by the European Union to create a regulatory framework. Scholars argue that the European directives, which will be examined below, establish the European copyright framework (Majone & Baake, 1996; Wallace, Pollack, & Young, 2015).

Scholars assert that an important factor for economic integration in Europe is the concept of information (Goodwin & Spittle, 2002). Given the fact that the “information society” is a critical element of modern Europe, it is acknowledged that information resources play a crucial role in the context of economic integration and the design of future research policy in Europe. For instance, the European Commission in 2011 conducted a consultation on the future of such policy, which led to the production of new foundations for the upcoming Eighth Framework program for research (FP8), renamed Common Strategic Framework for Research and Innovation funding (CSFRI) and presented under the Horizon 2020 program (Granieri & Renda, 2012). This will be discussed later in the chapter.

The design and assumptions underlying the modern framework of open access in Europe can be discerned by an examination of the directives that are the foundation of the European copyright regime. Based on this information, an analysis follows of the strengths and shortcomings of the European directives in relation to intellectual property, copyright protection and related rights, sharing information and open access among European Member States that constitute the modern European copyright regime. Examination of the governance framework regarding the OARs in the European Union helps us argue that it can be an instrument to balance the interests of copyright owner and end user interests. Furthermore, it will set the background and help to contextualise the implementation of open access in Greece in the following chapter as a pertinent European case study.

The European directives will be studied as a contemporary example of how copyright and digital revolution have adapted to create new possibilities, including that of OARs. The open access practice in the European context was introduced through the program titled Horizon 2020, which focuses on research and aims to foster information accessibility based on open access. The example of open access to research can be used to show whether an information society can facilitate new ways of thinking and furthering access to information resources. In conclusion, mandates, statements and projects relating to open access adopted from European institutions will also be addressed to present pragmatic justifications for open access.

The basic scope of the European Union is unification and harmonisation of all European Member States’ national laws (Antezana, 2003). Since the European Union aims to harmonise and unify national laws, it is only reasonable that it provides specific copyright policy that could be implemented by the European countries. Such policy, found in the directives, is examined below. In addition, these directives provide legal provisions in relation to open access and dissemination of information within the European continent (European Commission, 2007, 2014; European Communities, 2001; European Parliament, 2013; European Parliament & European Council, 2009; Giannopoulou, 2012). An analysis and explanation of the rationales for the governance framework of OARs in the European Union will help identify the standard that others may wish to follow.

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